How to be a Wally

Posted in Books > How to be a Wally | 8 Comments »
1983

Get in!!!Of all the great pretend sociological toilet books the eighties (literally) threw up, actually funny titles were few and far between. (Next time you’re pottering about the local Mencap, have a flick through The Sloane Ranger Handbook. Spot any jokes? Exactly.) Of the few that had any substance to them, Paul Manning’s study of lower middle class social prattishness led the pack.

As (cough) TV Cream’s new book exclusively reveals, this sort of coarse gaucherie has a long literary tradition going back to ancient Greece, but Manning’s Wally is both timeless and of the moment. His is a world of Ford Cortinas, C&A trainers, CB radios, saying ‘this is it’ instead of ‘I agree’ and standing outside DER showrooms in the pouring rain watching Game for a Laugh. It’s brand name comedy in the days before it went stale, and it remains infinitely more evocative of its era than a million clips of Brian Hanrahan in a flack jacket boasting about how many planes he can count.

A sequel, Superwally, followed in due course, after which Manning decided we’d got the idea and moved on to other things. Ah, if only today’s novelty book authors would show such restraint, eh?

TV CREAM SAYS: WE'D RATHER BE HEMELING!

8 Responses to “How to be a Wally”

  1. Adrian says:

    1983 was the official year of the toilet book..

  2. brickbat246 says:

    I’m better off at a Berni. Failing that, a pint of Black Label at the Moon and Parrot will do

  3. A Parrot that says "Nice one, Cyril" says:

    I never read the original book, but I did buy Superwally in Bargain Books for less than 50p. The reason it was so cheap was that there was a slip of paper inside saying “The references to Miss Fay Hillier are a mistake and should never have been printed. We apologise, etc…” On closer reading, the author had named Fay a “Wallette” and said that she had turned up at her late boyfriend Dick Emery’s funeral dressed in stockings and suspenders and not much else, which turned out to be utterly untrue. Whoops. The instructions for impersonating Bruce Forsyth and Frank Spencer were good, though.

    What was the connection between these books, Wally Week of computer game fame, and being Wallied on Bob’s Full House? “Wally” meant different things to different people, so it seemed.

  4. isobel manning says:

    My dad wrote this book when i was a toddler. Its great to know that it is still considered a good read. I am the eldest of three girls and my middle sister at the age of two was clothed in an over sized yellow sweatshirt that said “I’m a complete wally” on the front, and “what’s your excuse?’ printed on the back. She started wearing this again recently. Some of my first memories were gazing up at a parrot being sick, which hung from my mobile.

  5. astralbee says:

    I was a proud owner of both ‘Wally’ books. I was only about eight at the time and they were probably completely unsuitable but my parents never thought to check my reading. Absolutely genius, they made me laugh out loud, and helped me spot and avoid wallyish behaviour throughout my formative years! I hope that whatever Paul Manning went on to do after his 3 books brought as much joy.

  6. Super Wally turned up in huge quantities at a local charity shop a few years ago, and the aforementioned slip of paper referring to Fay Hillier was indeed tucked inside. Both books were absolutely spot-on and really captured the time and the place, particularly the Wally articles of faith (Oriental women have crooked vaginas) and the observation that “Wallettes” spend most of their time hanging around children’s playgrounds chewing gum with their mouths open.

  7. heather says:

    I have a copy of ‘The Naff Guide’, which isn’t bad, if you can get the references.

  8. Alessandra says:

    I have the book “how to be a wally”, it was given to me in 1991 while I was aupairing in Ireland. I still have it and sometimes I read it just for a laugh

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